Last weekend I braved a 6-hour Megabus journey down south to Bristol with no plug sockets, no functioning overhead lights and (it turned out) almost no battery on my iPod. Why? Because I was going to visit one of my lovely friends, and see a new city! I’ve wanted to visit Bristol for years so I was excited to have a local show me around; here were the highlights of my weekend…
This had to be first on the list didn’t it? Bristol is the birthplace of Banksy and the site of many of his most famous pieces, and his so-called ‘Banksy Effect’ has led not just to an explosion of the graffiti art scene, but to an acceptance of it by the Bristol people and council. Because of this, street art is allowed to remain and actually appreciated, instead of being hurriedly scrubbed away as in many cities.
My friend dutifully took me around the city to show me some of the more well-known Banksys, but as you wander and run into graffiti on every corner, you realise that there’s far more to Bristol’s art scene than just one man. There’s some amazing creativity going on, and I fell in love with the bold, colourful doodles that hid around every corner!
On our way down to M Yard for a look at Bristol’s history, we stopped by at Harbourside Market to browse along the thoroughfare of shops and stalls. There are some gorgeous products on offer from crafts to toiletries, and plenty of attention is paid to local artists. I especially loved the ‘little things in life’ series by Bristolian Hannah Broadway.
However my favourite stall was Bristol Books, where I spent a good half hour browsing while my friend patiently paced the other stalls. The stall had a particular focus on Beat literature, but also had a wide range of Penguin Classics, poetry, and cult films, more often than not with really cool cover art. After a lot of deliberating I chose some pretty copies of High Windows and Ariel, and had a lovely chat to the stall owner about how Sylvia Plath was a goddess and Ted Hughes was a twat.
Clifton Village & Suspension Bridge
Apparently the Clifton Suspension Bridge is quite famous and kind of a big deal, however I had never heard of it (oops). It was actually pretty impressive – the bridge stretches across the huge Avon Gorge and if it hadn’t been a bleak, grey day the views would have been incredible.
After we’d walked the suspension bridge, we headed into Clifton Village for a wander and some lunch. It’s definitely not to be missed – it’s a really quaint part of Bristol with cobbled streets, rows of beautiful Georgian townhouses and cool cafes. We stopped at Spicer+Cole for coffee and a sandwich and I loved it – the drinks list was huge and they have all their sandwiches displayed in delicious-looking stacks by the door. I went for a latte and a jerk chicken flatbread with hummus and mango chutney, and it was so filling I didn’t eat anything else for the rest of the day.
Bristol Christmas Market
Usually I like to save Christmas joy in all its forms until December and stubbornly anything festive throughout November, but Bristol’s German Christmas Market had just arrived and it seemed rude not to stop by! There were all the standard stalls selling mulled wine and German toys, but we were most interested by the bratwurst hotdogs covered in onions. I almost dropped the whole thing down my front but it was totally worth the risk – the hotdog stands at Leeds German Market don’t do onions and they’re missing a trick. I also had a rocky road cake from a sweet stand and it was pure chocolate heaven.
Shaun the Sheep
I couldn’t not mention Shaun the Sheep! Earlier this year Bristol hosted Shaun in the City, a charity art trail by the Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Foundation where people were invited to track down 70 Shaun the Sheep statues using the ‘Sheep Spotter’ app. Now that the art trail is over the statues have been auctioned off, and one has remained in its original location outside the Bristol Children’s Hospital. We had to stop by and see him!
I wish I’d had more than a weekend to see this city! What are your favourite places in Bristol?